Hey everybody! Mr. Wonderful coming at you with my very first blog post. Kimberly kept telling me that she was going to get me writing posts and I kept telling her negatory. You can see who has won this battle. I may have been tricked into doing so with this DIY dough bowl, and I am beginning to see she has a master plan that I may not be keen to just yet.
Kimberly had seen dough bowls, fell in love and immediately asked if I could help her out in this venture. The first obstacle in my mind was finding some hardwood in a size that would complement the vision she had in her head. From the internet searches I had done I found that these dough bowls came in a variety of sizes. Getting some bigger pieces of wood would allow me to make some test bowls before producing the grand mama jama in her head.
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For this project you will need:
- Large piece of hardwood
- Chainsaw or big saw to remove bark
- Circular Saw
- Big and Medium Size Clamps
- Angle Grinder
- 4½“ 24 Grit Carbide Cup Wheel
- Sanding Flap Disc
- Tape Measure
- Hand Saw
- Stain (we used Minwax Fruitwood Stain)
- Minwax Polycrylic – Satin finish
- Critter spray gun (optional)
- Java Gel Stain
- Hearing protection
- Safety googles or face mask
- Breathing mask
A call to a friend, who had a guy, and I was in business. Delivered to me was an ash tree trunk that was approximately 26” in diameter and 44” in length. The 26” diameter was cut into 3 sections with the middle section being 10” thick. I opted to work on one of the side sections of about 8” thick for my first test piece. This would make a more shallow bowl, but was a good piece to practice on.
Once in the wood shop, I figured the best place to start was to see what my workable width of this project would be. I laid a straight edge (a 4’ level in this case) across the face of the wood just inside of the bark that I would be removing and drew a line along the length. Then I measured across the wood (perpendicular to that line) over to the bark on the opposite side. I copied that measurement to each end of the wood to get my prospective sides parallel. From there I took my circular saw to maximum depth (like a submarine captain) and cut along those lines. It wound up with a width just shy of 13”.
I looked at the bark side of the piece and started to wonder how to easily cut the bark face off for a squared up piece of stock. I had originally asked for this to be cut off by the chainsaw guy, but this is how it came. How could I be the least bit unhappy with this beautiful wood for my project? Thus the thinking cap went on. Now a chainsaw could make easy use of this, but other plans had been discussed. When originally announcing this project to the neighbor, he had offered up the use of an antique two-person saw that he had gotten from his grandfather in law. An opportunity like this could not be wasted. So I slipped on my best lumberjack flannel and went to work.
I placed a couple of guides next to the wood as pictured and started sawing down the length. Again, if you can get this cut by the chainsaw guy, you would be happier and have a less sore shoulder. Although, having done this cut I feel I have now gone above and beyond completing all the requirements to earn my “Man Card”. I keep watching for Ron Swanson to drop that off.
Finally squaring up the ends gives me the block of wood to start my layout. I then took to rounding off the bottom of my bowl which meant this to me, “What will be left once I remove the bark?” I roughly figured that drawing some parallel lines 4” in from each side would allow me to round off the long edges and leave me a nice base for the bowl to sit on.
Here is where my purchase of the perfect tool for this job was about to gain some use. Now you might be thinking of how dough bowls were made without a tool like the one I am going to gush on about shortly. Let me say that I also took note of cupped hatchet type tools used by folks making these without power tools. While I envy their skill, I further envy my fingers and their current placement.
After many internet searches I came across a video that compared many different discs, coupled with a hand grinder, that would carve this bowl efficiently at the lowest cost. This was only a request by my wife, not a new business venture so less investment won out. Wound up that one of the best carving discs was by far the least expensive. This was mind blowing to me. The 4½“ 24 Grit Carbide Cup Wheel was just what this “granter of dreams” was looking for. This made easy work of rounding the bottom when paired with my new hand grinder.
I should take a step back for a moment and let any of you know that when operating power tools that you should always read the manual to ensure proper use. This grinding leads to a fair amount of dust, so eye and breathing protection is needed on top of hearing protection.
Once the awe mellowed after witnessing the astonishing work this tool set did, I went to work on the top. This being my first bowl, I erred on the conservative side and measured in 1.5” from the long edges and 3.5” from the short edges. I used a 5 gallon bucket as a guide to get a nice circle for the ends. Setting it on the 3.5” mark, I centered it between the long edges and traced my line. I figured that starting to make the depression that would turn into a bowl would be the first task to complete.
The carbide disc was easy to control as I simply ground down around the edge of my guideline. I was a little worried about this because that disc is nasty looking and I didn’t want to be on the business end of it, so I proceeded with caution. Utilizing the two hand holds offered the influence I needed to scrape this block into a masterpiece (even if only in my own head). The first round mostly left me with about ⅛” deep outline, but that was enough to have me press on and deepen the bowl.
Rounding this depression was as easy as simply dragging the spinning carbide disc along the outline at varied angles to get the desired curvature. I really took my time with this part as I did not want to take the depth too far. I found myself at what I thought was maybe deep enough only to find that I could and should go deeper. Eventually I got a desirable shape out of the bowl and attention turned to finishing the bottom.
Back to the internet for some further research on the what the ends should look like. After talking this over with Kimberly, we settled on what she liked and I brought the circular saw back out. I missed taking pictures of this, but I was a man full of motivation and any women reading this will know that is prime time to get that man working. I marked a line 1” down from the top. The 1” would be the thickness of the handles. I turned the piece of wood over and set my circular saw to max depth.
I figured that depth would suffice for what would be the length of the handles at either end. From that depth, I found the offset of where a 45° angle cut from the bottom would run into the cut I made for the handles. I knew that would leave a short cut with the hand saw and I was ok with that.
I had seen some cracks in one end of the block and after cutting the handles one made itself very present. Lucky me though, Kimberly loved it. She said she loved the way it looked and she thought it made the bowl look more like an antique. I accepted full credit and moved on.
You might see that the ends/handles seem thinner than 1” and you would be correct. Kimberly did not like the heft of the handles and I made use of the carbide disc and tapered the handle from inside to the edge where it now is closer to ¾”. Also the 1.5” width of the top sides were a bit heftier than what the end product should look like. I got busy with the hand grinder again, dragging the spinning disc down the length of the inside of the bowl to reduce the thickness of the top rim of the bowl.
I took to sanding the bowl to smooth out the grinding disc rough work and round over any of the hard edges. Believe it or not, I had originally thought about carving out the inside of the bowl with a sanding disc on a hand grinder. I’d still be working on it now if I stayed that course. There were still some marks from the chainsaw but we decided that we liked them on there. It added to the “distressed” look of the dough bowl.
We tested out some different finishes on the bottom. Kimberly had wanted it to look like an antique so we tried a vinegar/steel wool stain like we used on our DIY tobacco basket to get the look of aged wood. Evidently that does not work too well on Ash wood because it turned out gray. And not a good, vintagey looking gray. So we tried some different stains that we had in the cabinet.
We decided on a Fruitwood stain which seemed a little light, but our plans were to spray 2 coats of Polycrylic and then use some java gel stain to do some faux aging which we have used on other projects for this purpose. I have moved from brushing Polycrylic to spraying with a Critter sprayer. Kimberly talked me into purchasing this for previous projects and I was positive that it wouldn’t work. Now after using it to spray our trim and cabinets, I have to admit it is amazing!
The dough bowl was really starting to come to life with the satin finish applied. After instruction-appropriate time to dry, I moved forward with the plan. With a sock on my hand, I took very small amounts of java gel stain to rub into different parts to provide further contrast. We first tested a small area before applying it to the whole bowl in case we did not like it. After a short amount of time to dry another 2 coats of Polycrylic were applied and allowed to dry.
I will now turn this over to Kimberly to tell you how she is using, and plans to use, this piece in her decorating. Mr. W signing off.
What do you all think? Pretty awesome right! I absolutely love it! It fits perfect on this console table in our family room. And to think, this was just the practice piece! 😉
I am going to love decorating this for the different seasons. For the meantime, I just added some moss balls in it but even that looks lovely. Since this has been a pretty long post, I won’t ramble on about how great it is, I will just show you what you want to see…some more pictures of the finished product!
The grand “mama jama” like Mr. Wonderful mentioned earlier is going to be a bigger, deeper dough bowl to put on the dining room table. I may finish it differently because I want the finish to look more like an antique. Does anyone have any suggestions for that? I can’t wait for it especially seeing how well this one turned out! Although that may be a while, I suppose I need to give Mr. W a little break. 🙂 Plus, we are currently in the process of renovating one of our rooms into a office/guest room so we have been busy. I will be sharing all of our work in there with you soon.